The first unexpected domino of the Chicago Bulls offseason already seems to have fallen, but it’s not the loud splash of a blockbuster trade we’re witnessing, but rather a silent and stealthy stab in the back. That’s because Derrick Jones Jr. has officially opted to decline his player option for the 2023-24 season and will be entering this summer’s free agent pool.
Originally, Jones Jr. had indicated his intentions to return to the Bulls back in late April. This led most fans to believe he would be one of Chicago’s primary reserve forwards off the bench next season, and likely signaled that another free agent in Javonte Green would search for a role with more minutes on another squad. This decision has likely thrown a sizeable wrench in the front office’s plans, as Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley will be forced to cobble together a plan with Dalen Terry as the only reserve wing now under contract.
Shams Charania of The Athletic was the first to report this surprising news of Jones Jr.’s impending free agency ahead of tomorrow night’s 2023 NBA Draft.
Derrick Jones Jr.’s time with the Chicago Bulls has likely come to an end with his decision to decline his player option for 2023-24.
Jones Jr. shined in the limited minutes he received this season, leaving many fans (myself included) thinking he could build on that with a larger role with the team next year. Jones Jr.’s defensive and rim-running abilities were particularly effective this past year, so he’ll be a sorely missed asset if he decides to bolt in free agency.
DJJ showed no signs of having doubts about his role with the team in April, as he spoke candidly with K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago back in April.
"“Like I told Coach (Billy Donovan) and everybody else, I’m locked in for two years. I didn’t sign for two years for no reason. So I’m here for two years,” Jones Jr. said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. “I just gotta sit down with my agent and talk to him, figure things out. But I don’t see why not. I got no other plans, yet.”"
With no answer off the bench behind DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Williams, the Bulls now have yet another question mark to answer this summer. This decision also may bring doubt on Andre Drummond’s claims that he intends to accept his player option, as he stated on the IAMATHLETE podcast that he loves Chicago and would like to return for next season.